U.S. Statement at the Interactive Dialogue with the Commission on Burundi

Interactive Dialogue with the Commission on Burundi
Statement by the United States of America
As Delivered by Jason Mack
Human Rights Council, 35th Session

Thank you Mr. President.

The United States thanks the Commissioners for their comprehensive update.

We are pleased that the Government of Burundi in January began the process of pardoning and releasing over 2,000 prisoners. Although this is a positive development, violence and repression continues throughout Burundi.  We call on the government to take further steps to advance human rights.

Among other challenges facing Burundi, more than 380,000 Burundians have fled their country in the wake of violence following President Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a disputed third term, including the government’s generalized crackdown on opposition and the May 2015 attempted coup d’etat.

While recognizing efforts at destabilization by the armed opposition, we call on the government to end extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, unknown places of detention, and torture with impunity.  We urge the government to take responsibility for its actions, and prioritize the development of a proactive, impartial, and transparent judiciary that brings perpetrators to justice, provides remedies for victims, and provides the public with confidence that their claims are being independently investigated.

Human rights defenders continue to face intimidation and threats of arbitrary detention, torture, and disappearance.  We are concerned that the new NGO law will make it impossible for NGOs to operate effectively.  Civil society must be allowed the space to operate and protect civil liberties for all.

We strongly support the dialogue led by the East African Community and mediated by former Tanzanian President Mkapa.  We believe it represents a critical avenue to reach a peaceful resolution to the current standoff and to advance a stable, prosperous Burundi moving forward.

Commission Members:
What actions can be taken to encourage all parties to commit in good faith to the dialogue?
How can the international community encourage the opening of space and opportunity for Burundi’s opposition parties who are operating under significant restrictions in support of free, fair and transparent 2020 elections?

Thank you Mr. President